Click fraud is a kind of Internet-based crime that takes place in pay-per-click online ads when a person, script, or computer program simulates a real user of a system’s web browser by clicking an ad for the goal of making revenue for the advertising firm and the hacker who delivered the click fraud malware to the unknowing victim.
Almost always the actual advertising that is clicked for profit is actually of no interest to the victim. Click fraud is a topic of some controversy and of increasing litigation due to advertising networks benefiting from the fraud on the backs of innocent consumers.
Pay-per-click advertising (PPC advertising) is an arrangement in which webmasters, acting as publishers, display clickable links from advertisers, in exchange for a charge per click. The biggest advertising networks today are Google’s AdWords/AdSense and Yahoo! Search Marketing. Both companies act in a dual role since they are also publishers of Internet content (on their search engines).
This type of click fraud is based around noncontracted parties who are not part of a team setup with pay-per-click advertising agreements. This lack of liability between parties can introduce criminal elements into the pay-per-click advertising process. Google and Yahoo! lose money to unnoticed click fraud when they pay out to the advertiser, but they make more money when they collect fees from advertisers through regularly paid dues.